My muse ain’t lazy

If I’ve learned one thing about myself as a writer, it’s that I’m impatient. I want to write faster, I want to edit faster, I want to get feedback faster, I want … well, you get the idea. So I get impatient with my Muse when she doesn’t seem to be cooperating with my “I want” schedule. I tend to forget she could be working behind the scenes.

Frequently, usually when I’m driving or in the shower, a single line or a great story title comes to me. When I’m lucky enough to get those written down before I forget, I file them in my Opening lines and Titles folder. Sometimes, when I need a jumpstart for a story, I browse through that file to see if something jumps out at me. It’s nifty when I realize an opening and a story title fit together.

Such was the case for the short story I finished a couple of days ago. I had matched the two many months ago, and even made a couple notes, but never actually started the story. I thought about it once or twice through the months, and then forgot it again. But it came to mind when I wanted to write another story last month.

As is my habit, I opened the file, read the first sentence, then closed my eyes and waited for the scene to play out. Before long, I’d typed the first three paragraphs, but nothing more came, so I closed the file, expecting to get back to it later that day. Then I got distracted with the process of the new cover design for Brevity, and didn’t return to the story for three weeks.

A mental flash of the main character in the story is what reminded me to get back to work on it. I saw an angry woman, an indignant woman—a woman scorned. I sat down at the keyboard and she took over. Within a few hours, I’d written the draft and did a first edit. Fun stuff. I mean, this rejected woman cleverly redeems her self-respect—what’s not to love about that?

The ease with which the words flowed, once again, demonstrated that my industrious Muse had worked on the story while I was off doing who knows what. My advice? When your Muse tosses you a line or title, pay attention. Something’s probably in the works.

15 thoughts on “My muse ain’t lazy

    1. I keep saying I’m going to get one of those diver’s tablets for the shower, but I never have. I did once write a line on the bathroom mirror with my eyeliner pencil. I forgot to erase it and my husband thought I was nuts. 😉

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  1. I have horrible habits. Even though my clip file overflows with sparks of inspiration from long ago, I often forget to glance through it when I’m dry on ideas and in the past 24 months I’ve stopped adding to the clip file all together. WHY? I never have paper and pen in hand when I need it because this is what happens:

    When I take the time to make sure I’m prepared and shove index cards and notebooks in every cranny of my life, it’s inevitable that I will I hit a long stent of inspiration silence. Eventually, I lose the habit of having a notebook or index cards ready and lo and behold that’s when inspiration finally strikes. It’s almost as if some kind of voodoo takes place when I have both paper and pen at the ready, or when I sit in front of the computer for that matter. Maybe I should resort to writing those little flashes of inspiration on my arm with lipstick.

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  2. Inspiration for a story can hit at the strangest times. I think that’s how I realize my muse is really a part of who I am–she has the same bad timing and quirky sense of humorous that I have been blessed with! Twwo days ago, a whole new novel-length idea came to me while I was at the funeral of my 82 year old aunt. It felt strange to be jotting ideas kn the IN MEMORIUM card, but it’s what I.had handy. And as she was a lover of good, Christian fiction, I don’t think Aunt Marjory would.mind

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  3. Linda, I am one of the most impatient writers I think there is!! I’m not impatient when I’m actually writing, I’m impatient when I’m not. It just takes too damn long to get a story to a proper level!!
    Sometimes, I imagine if it was just me, and no family, I would be one those hermits who never came out of her house because she was writing all the time. But then, where would my muse come from?

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    1. I’m afraid I am one of those hermits, Jennifer. I was thinking after I wrote that post, I drive so infrequently now, I rarely get an inspired thought that way anymore. I do take a shower once in a while though. 😉

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  4. You may need to tell your muse that she must begin to work regular hours or else. These flashes of “inspiration” while you are preoccupied (like in the shower, watching your favorite program, singing your favorite song, etc.) is not going to suffice 🙂

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